Climate Change: Why the Threat Produces Apathy, Not Action

Many people aren’t responding to mounting evidence of the huge impacts of climate change. Neuroscience helps explain why – and the key role that businesses can play in responding rationally.

Voter behavior has long held mysteries for both politicians and psychologists. Why do poor and working-class voters across the US South, for instance, still line up to support conservative candidates whose policies favor the rich, weaken the social-safety net and limit access to affordable health care?

Some in the field of moral psychology have argued that national politics is “more like religion than it is like shopping”. Entrenched notions of cultural identity, in other words, can often be more motivating than short-term policy promises.

But how to explain the paralyzing resistance to climate change action, where the risks approach existential peaks unseen in historical human experience?

Despite spending a record amount of money to sway the mid-term US elections, environmental groups and high-profile donors failed to avert a sweeping Republican victory last week, in which candidates opposing the regulation of greenhouse gases and championing the expansion of tar sands pipelines won big.

It’s not as though the facts aren’t there: the global scientific community has warned us for years about the present and future impacts of climate change linked to fossil fuel use. Earlier this month, for example, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report came out, warning of “severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts” if carbon emissions are not halted fast.

“Science has spoken,” UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon said during the report’s release. “Time is not on our side.”

With so much at stake, why do people fail to act? What’s happening inside their brains?

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Photo Credit: J E Theriot on


Climate Reality
Climate Reality16 ago
We deserve clean air and a safe climate. Is that too much to ask? Add your name by February 26 if you agree.
Climate Reality
Climate Reality3 hours ago
The price of one’s daily cuppa may hit the ceiling in a few years, and it’s all because of climate change.
Climate Reality
Climate Reality5 hours ago
For years oil companies have boasted about the benefits that they have brought to Houston, Texas. But what about the damage? (The Years Project)
Climate Reality
Climate Reality
Climate Reality19 hours ago
Australia is looking to the bright light in the sky to become more sustainable (and save some serious green). (via World Economic Forum)
Climate Reality
Climate Reality
Climate Reality21 hours ago
The furniture giant is letting clients in on a little secret – green power is simple, accessible, and can save you big bucks.

Climate Change Discussion

Is climate change real? Or is it a communist plot to enslave humanity? Is denial of climate change a plot by the oil companies to protect their profits? How can we tell who is lying? Is doomsday upon us? How bad is it? Is it the end for all life on Earth? And, if so, should we lie down or something? This group endeavors to discover the answers to these questions and more. It is NOT the purpose of this group to force an answer on participants. We are blind men groping an elephant. Tell us what your part of the elephant feels like so that the rest of us can correct our understanding. This group has few rules and will be moderated with a light hand. 1) Don't violate the Facebook Terms of Service. We don't want the group shut down. 2) Spam will be deleted. Off-topic posts from regulars are permitted within reason for social purposes, but off-topic posts from newcomers will be assumed to be spam and removed. All posts will be subjected to post approval. 3) This is an open group. If you make an ass of yourself, the whole world will see it. The moderators will not protect you from yourself. 4) If you don't want to see another person's posts, use the block feature. The moderators will be happy to help you with this. You may censor what you see. You may not censor what others see. 5) Don't feed trolls. The best way to draw attention to an idiot's rant is to respond to him. The best way to silence him is to ignore him. The post will rapidly scroll out of view and others won't see it. Every time you reply, you bump the post up where all will see it, giving it legitimacy. 6) Reporting others is a bannable offense. Only report for fly-by-night spam (ie. from people who just joined the group to post one item and then vanish). Bumping 20161006
Pat Ruckert
Pat Ruckert shared California Drought Report's post to the group: Climate Change Discussion.14 hours ago
Peter Thompson
Peter Thompson shared a link to the group: Climate Change Discussion.34 ago
Issues with solar in Canada.
Peter Thompson
Support us on Patreon: Our solar videos: Our videos in chronological order: ENJOY THIS V...
Pete Gross
Pete Gross shared a link to the group: Climate Change Discussion.6 days ago
It must be terribly disheartening for fossil fuel shills these days.

"This year’s forecast from BNEF sees solar energy costs dropping a further 66% by 2040, and onshore wind by 47%, with renewables undercutting the majority of existing fossil power stations by 2030."

Judy Byatt
Judy Byatt shared a link to the group: Climate Change Discussion.19 hours ago
one for the deniers

Irv Beiman
Irv Beiman shared a link to the group: Climate Change Discussion.23 hours ago
It does appear that things are happening way faster and sooner than the politicized IPCC reports have predicted.
Claude Beaumont
Claude Beaumont shared Stefan Rahmstorf's post to the group: Climate Change Discussion.2 days ago
Yep, the hockey stick is real

Climate Change Policy & Practice
Climate Change Policy & Practice14 hours ago
The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), an institution of the World Bank Group, has issued a US$350 million bond that raises funds for all of the Bank’s development activities, while focusing on four of the 17 SDGs: SDG 3 (good health and well-being); SDG 5 (gender equality); SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production); and SDG 13 (climate action).

The sole investor in the bond is the Folksam Group, one of Sweden’s major insurance and investment management companies.
Climate Change Policy & Practice
Climate Change Policy & Practice3 days ago
IRENA has reported that the EU has the potential to cost-effectively double the share of renewables in its energy mix from the 2015 rate of 17% to 34% in 2030.

According to the IRENA report, the EU’s identified renewable energy project opportunities could result in avoided health and environmental costs worth US$52-133 billion per year and reduce CO2 emissions by 412 Mt, an amount comparable to Italy’s current emission levels.
Climate Change Policy & Practice
Climate Change Policy & Practice1 week ago
The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) has released the 2017 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Progress Report, showing that Ontario’s GHG emissions have dropped to the lowest level since reporting began in 1990, while gross domestic product (GDP) and population have continued to grow.

The report recommends that the government insist on knowing the GHG footprint of what it buys, set an emission-reduction target for its purchases, and give GHG footprint significant weight in procurement decisions.
Climate Change Policy & Practice
Climate Change Policy & Practice1 week ago
Climate finance update:

In January, three major investors announced plans to divest, or demonstrated progress in divesting, from fossil fuels.

According to the Climate Bonds Initiative, global green bond issuance in 2017 totalled US$155.5 billion, representing a 78% growth from 2016.

The GCF's plans and priorities for the year include “focusing on quality, while increasing efforts to move more funding proposals into implementation and scaling up disbursement”.

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